Sheriff hopeful Gittelson to speak at Sundays with the Candidates series

Daily Hampshire Gazette
Staff Writer
Published: 6/14/2022 7:03:44 PM
Modified: 6/14/2022 7:01:28 PM

WORTHINGTON — Yvonne Gittelson, an educator who works for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as the corrections program specialist for the state, will be addressing the Town Democratic Committee’s Sundays with the Candidates series this Sunday as part of her campaign for Hampshire County sheriff.

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“I’m very excited,” said Gittelson, 63, of Goshen, when asked about getting to speak to Worthington’s Democrats. “I had a wonderful experience gathering signatures with them.”

Gittelson’s appearance in the series, which takes place over Zoom, will begin at 2 p.m.

Fellow candidate for the Democratic Party nomination Caitlin Sepeda addressed the series on June 12, while Hampshire County Sheriff Patrick Cahillane will speak at the series on June 26 at 2 p.m.

In her work for DESE, Gittelson oversees vocational and educational programming for prisoners across the state.

“I oversee, monitor and evaluate all the adult education programs in all the correctional facilities that receive DESE funding,” she said.

She is also a former employee of the Hampshire County sheriff’s office, where she worked from 2017 to 2021 as its education coordinator.

“Frankly, I was very frustrated in what I was not able to do,” she said.

She also spoke to what spurred her to run for sheriff.

“I couldn’t just sit on my hands and do nothing,” she said. “What we’re doing there in that facility is not enough.”

Gittelson said pretrial detainees faced significant barriers to accessing educational programming at the jail during her time there. She also said she proposed turning one or more of the pretrial pods at the jail into education and treatment pods, but “got nowhere.”

While Gittelson describes herself as a fierce advocate for incarcerated individuals, she also emphasized her financial skills, saying she has extensive experience overseeing and applying for grants. She also said that, should she be elected, she would publish both the sheriff’s budget and the contents and dispositions of funds under the office’s purview.

Gittelson is also interested in creating a citizens advisory committee, as well as an inmates advisory committee, both of which would be able to give input to her.

Unlike security staff at the jail, non-security staff are not unionized, and Gittelson said she would bring in the Service Employees International Union to speak to them and see if they would like to unionize, should she be elected.

Additionally, Gittelson said she is eager to fix the problem of security staff at the jail having to work mandatory double shifts frequently.